What health care reform is really about

Today's televised health care showdown is seen by many, if not most, as political theater, but I think that's fine. Theater is a way to clarify and teach what's true, and in this case, perhaps change both actors and audience. But part of the drama that must not be ignored is in fact that of the audience, and people like my colleague Jan Battaile at PoliticsDaily. Her multiple myeloma recently returned and she recounts her story of dealing with our current health care system in this essay.It is a nightmarish tale, one too many readers have likely endured, and there are of course even worse stories. But I don't think we can ever forget that there are lives at stake, and these must be the goals -- universal coverage, affordability, no denial of benefits for preexisting conditions, no absurd hoops to jump through. And etc. Jan's story is worth reading for gems such as this:

Keeping your own doctor is one of the big concerns in the debate over reforming the nation's health care system, an effort that appears to be on life support as President Obama convenes a summit Thursday to try to patch together a bill that Republicans can sign on to. Another threat raised repeatedly by opponents of the Democrats' plan is that it will create a nightmare system where government bureaucrats make all the decisions.Bureaucrats? There are plenty of those in the private sector, too. But I should be so lucky to get one. All I get when I call UHC is the phone bank. Over the last month, I've called at least a dozen times and have never once talked to anyone who is actually reviewing my case or could make a decision about approving it. In fact, when I asked to speak with someone in the Clinical Coverage Department, I was told: "They don't have a number.'' Later, when I asked to speak with the person reviewing my case, the answer was, "She can only speak to the provider.'

And she winds up with this:

I'm in despair. I think back to last year, when I signed up for early Social Security. It took one phone call. Fifteen minutes max. Everything was loaded into their system and I could look it up online. All the information was there. It was all correct. My checks come like clockwork on the same day every month. I've never had one problem. Last year my husband signed up for Medicare. Same experience. No problems, no complaints. This is your government at work. Some bureaucrats know how to get it right.

Is anyone listening?

David Gibson is the director of Fordham’s Center on Religion & Culture.

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